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Mandatory AP testing in dispute

Senior Layla Stroer pays close attention in her AP Literature and Composition class to prepare for AP testing. Photo by Makenna Hensley.

From the beginning of the year, AP classes have been preparing for their biggest challenge yet: AP testing.

AP testing, also known as Advanced Placement testing, are tests that are taken for college credit in high school – but are they essential for doing well in high school itself?

Senior Asa O’Callaghan gave his thoughts on testing.

“I feel confident about the AP tests, as I’ve had a year’s worth of class to prepare for them,” said O’Callaghan. “That being said, I am only taking four tests this year instead of six.”

With all AP classes, there are some classes that don’t necessarily fully prepare you for the exam.

“My AP Lit and AP Calculus teachers have definitely done a great job preparing students for the test, in my opinion,” said Senior Madelyn Wilson. “[However], my AP Government class has not really prepared me for the test from what I’ve seen so far. I did not receive much instruction from my teacher in [Advanced] Art, but I was given the instructions for how to complete the AP submission.”

O’Callaghan has some sense of the subjects at hand.

“The effectiveness of the classes depends largely on teachers and their chosen curriculum,” said O’Callaghan. “[Like the] amount of homework, test prep, testing advice, and a teacher’s personal involvement in a given subject.”

AP Biology teacher, Jennifer Weir, talked about her emotions about testing.

“I feel both excitement and trepidation about the AP Exam,” said Mrs. Weir. “I am excited because it is the ‘game-day’ for all our academic practice throughout the year. It is the opportunity for students to show all that they learned throughout the year.”

AP classes sometimes require materials for testing to be bought from the pocket of some students like Senior Rochelle Kneemeyer.

“In my experiences with AP classes and testing, I’ve learned that it is all up to the student to prepare themselves for the AP tests at the end of the year,” said Kneemeyer. “[Like] buying the book, doing the class assignments, working with the teacher outside of class for extra help.”

Advanced placement classes frequently eat up time that could have been used for extracurricular activities.

“I do recommend AP classes, but I also caution students to choose AP classes in subjects that really interest them,” said Mrs. Weir. “AP classes are a lot of work and are more challenging because of the amount of material to learn and more difficult assessment questions. I also do not recommend that students take too many AP classes per year. I want students to still have time for sports, activities, and family. Getting an extra GPA point is not worth stress and tears.”

AP testing is based off of hours of notes, studying, and hard dedication to a course.

“I am pretty confident that I will do well on the Lit and Calculus, I am unsure about Art,” said Wilson. “And I’m doubtful I will do well on AP Gov. I usually do relatively well with tests, so I figure it’s worth trying even if I am not 100% prepared. I could be exempt from taking certain college courses should I do well, so I will do my best to pass as many as possible.”

“There is no true substitute for studying AP test questions,” said O’Callaghan. “… Knowing the layout and purpose of the test, knowing the test format and how The College Board words difficult questions is key to comfortably getting a great score.”

These tests are the goal for the end of the class, but they shouldn’t be mandatory. 

“In practice, I think there are always extenuating circumstances as to why a student might not take the exam,” Mrs. Weir said. “The cost of multiple AP Exams and forcing students who are not prepared results in lower scores reported for our school.”

On the other hand, she continued to elaborate on why it’s beneficial for students to take this test.

“In theory, yes, [all AP students should take their AP Exams], because that is one of the main reasons for taking the course and it ensures that students who take the course have the mindset that they must keep up with the material,” said Mrs. Weir. “I also think that it keeps teachers focused on teaching the required content so that students can do well on the test.”

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Mandatory AP testing in dispute